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Italy’s Draghi pledges to boost military spending amid internal opposition

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi speaks during a joint press conference with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa, and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis via videolink, amid Russia’s invasion o

ROME (Reuters) – Italy will honour a pledge to NATO to raise defence spending to 2% of GDP, the office of Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Tuesday, despite opposition within his broad coalition.

Rome’s current defence expenditure amounts to around 1.4% of national output, and Draghi reassured his international partners that he would boost this figure following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

However the 5-Star Movement, the biggest party in the ruling coalition, has unexpectedly said it was opposed to any swift boost in spending as the country is still trying to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and sharp rise in energy costs.

“The government intends to respect and strongly reiterates NATO commitments to increase military expenditure to 2% of GDP,” Draghi’s office said following a meeting between the prime minister and the 5-Star leader, former premier Giuseppe Conte.

The issue is shaking the ruling coalition as parliament debates on a decree that provides Ukraine with weapons and offers help to its refugees.

The 5-Star has so far dismissed any speculation it could quit the government but it showed no sign of backing down on the defence hike.

Military spending in Italy remained steady at between 19 billion and 21 billion euros ($21 billion-$23 billion) from 2008 to 2018, but it jumped after Conte became prime minister that year, rising by 17% by the end of 2021, defence ministry figures show.

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Italy’s Draghi pledges to boost military spending amid internal opposition

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